In her new autobiography, "Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology," Leah Remini goes after high-profile targets like Tom Cruise and Sharon Osbourne, but she has nothing but warm regards for one Twin Cities resident.
Sister Nicole Remini-Wiskow, who moved to Minnesota over a decade ago to raise her two kids, is portrayed in the just released book as a rock who stood by her younger sister even as she faced criticism from the church they both grew up in.
In the acknowledgments, the former "King of Queens" star thanks Nicole for her bravery and willingness to fight her battles.
"You are much stronger than you believe," Leah writes in a biography that has been heavily hyped in People magazine and on "Good Morning America. "If I'm in a fight, I want you by my side. Always."
Remini-Wiskow said her younger sibling first read the passage to her out loud this past weekend while they were shared a hotel room together during a publicity stop in New York.
"I was literally like a kid," Remini-Wiskow said Wednesday, taking a break from cleaning her bathroom. "I threw my hands over my eyes and started crying."
While the book is primarily about Leah Remini's love-hate relationship with Scientology, which led to a severed friendship with Cruise and his then-wife Katie Holmes, it also chronicles some of the challenges faced by her older sister, who she claims was verbally abused by a counselor when they were both growing up in the church's military-style program for kids. The book also claims that Remini-Wiskow was punished over false accusations that she had sex while in the camp's care.
"It's bringing up a lot of memories," said Remini-Wiskow, who is currently working for a website that helps organize high-end vacations. "It's almsot like a therapy session for me."
Remini-Wiskow left Scientology in 2000, about 13 years before her celebrity sister broke ranks. Remini-Wiskow said she had considered writing her own book in the past, but didn't want to be seen as the "black sheep" of a family still engaged with the church.
Remini-Wiskow said her sister, who admits in the book that she has a combative personality, has been calmer and more peaceful since leaving Scientology.
"I've been seeing the little child in her," Remini-Wiskow said. "This is a beautiful time for Leah."
Nicole Remini-Wiskow (left) and younger sister, Leah Remini